Does your project need an NPV boost?

Does your project need better metal recoveries to help it become the stand out project it needs to be in today’s market?

We understand that lower than average recoveries can really hurt your project NPV, making funding difficult to come by… and no funding means no company.

But we can help.

Simulus Laboratories has recently started working with one such project. Testwork results from almost 10 years ago show great recovery, but focus over the last few years had been on developing a much bigger resource. This came at the expense of grade, and it seems recovery suffered too. Simulus Laboratories are working with a renewed new management focused on creating real value through project development not resource inflation. Focus is on the right sized project, not the biggest project.

Early indications are that there is sweet spot where project NPV is optimised by reducing the plant size to process a smaller portion of the resource, but at a significantly improved grade and recovery. We’re looking at 2-3x NPV of the previous arrangement.

Do you have a project in need of a different approach to generate good news and gain market attention? Call Brett Muller today for a free strategy session on how The Simulus Group may be able to add significant value to your project.

Ardea KNP Cobalt Zone update

Ardea Resources are developing the KNP Cobalt Zone to help supply the growing demand for high purity cobalt sulphate in lithium ion battery production.  The Simulus Group are proud to be providing flowsheet development, testwork and engineering services to support the current project pre-feasibility study.

Simulus to build large scale ScO3-CoSO4-NiSO4 demonstration plant for Australian Mines

Simulus Laboratories are proud to have been selected to build and operate a new 600L demonstration autoclave as part of a demonstration plant for Australian Mines Limited. The plant shall combine a new 600L autoclave and Simulus Laboratories’ existing hydromet infrastructure to process over 2 tonnes per day of ore via pressure acid leaching to produce scandium oxide, cobalt sulphate and nickel sulphate products.

A relatively short project timeline of 6 months is planned. This is achievable due to Simulus Engineers’ in-house autoclave design capacity and established fabrication partners’ experience of working together on three previous autoclaves.

The full release can be found here here.

Flash drying : eleven things you should know

Simulus Engineers recently completed a study of various drying technologies for a client looking to improve the efficiency and integration of their operations. The stand-out technology option was flash drying. Flash drying involves using a stream of hot air to rapidly heat feed material and evaporate retained moisture. Below are Eleven key things about flash drying to remember when considering product drying for a project.

  1. It’s fast – time in the drying column is only 2-3 seconds. A significant benefit of this fast drying time is ease of process control and absence of any lag in the system.
  2. It’s energy efficient – the discharge gas from the dryer is normally about 120C, resulting in only a small amount of energy loss to the atmosphere.
  3. Flash drying can use waste heat – the use of direct heating and ability to handle larger volumes of air make flash drying an ideal technology for using waste heat from a gas turbine vent,
  4. Very few maintenance parts – moving parts are limited to the screw feeder, a disintegrator (similar to a blower) and a few rotary valves.
  5. It’s easy to test – Simulus have a pilot scale dryer that can process 10-50 kg/h of feed material. After an hour or so set up and fine tuning on each new material, a set of operating conditions can be defined a dry material produced within a day.
  6. Less ancillary equipment is needed – a flash drying column is quite tall, normally 15-30m, and the dry solids discharge via a cyclone at the top of the column. From here solids can flow by gravity or screw feeder to their next destination or discharge silo. Most other drying technologies require some form of sealed pneumatic transport to lift the dry material into the discharge silo.
  7. Smaller footprint – due to the really short residence time of the solids, the size of the dryer is also smaller than other options. The drying column is normally less than 800mm in diameter for flow rates up to about 100 t/h (exact sizing is based on moisture content and material properties) and stands vertically. The largest footprint item is the bag house.
  8. Simple to operate – a flash dryer can easily be operated with minimal operator intervention and remote control.
  9. Lower operating cost – the energy efficiecny of direct contact heating combined with the limited number of moving parts and low operator input make the operating cost of a flash dryer one of the lowest cost options available.
  10. Lower capital cost – due to simplicity of the drying column, the small amount of ancillary equipment the capital cost of the dryer is also often lower than other drying options
  11. Simulus can provide you with an engineering design and cost estimate include a flash dryer in your new or existing facility. Simulus often work with Drytech. as suppliers of the core technology package.
Flash drying picture
Flash dryer installation

Custom pilot plant fabrication for antimony and gold recovery

Rotary kiln discharge arrangement

Speciality Precious Metals Processing are undertaking pilot confirmatory testing and product preparation for their new antimony/gold processing technology. Simulus Laboratories have been engaged to provide a custom fabricated kiln discharge and off gas handing system to be retro-fitted to Simulus’ existing 3m x 300mm rotary kiln. The engagement follows a recommendation from WorleyParsons, the project EPCM contractor, after they undertook a global search to identify the most suitable facility for the desired testing. Simulus Laboratories are honoured to have been selected to complete this exciting and challenging program of work.

A description of the project from SPMP’s website is provided below.

Project: Antimony Roasting Facility
Location: Port of Sohar Free Zone, Sultanate of Oman
Size: 200,000 m2 (20Ha)

The Project will have a name plate design capacity of 20,000 tonnes antimony per annum in combined metal and antimony tri-oxide (“ATO”) products, representing approximately 12 per cent. of average annual world antimony production over the past five years. The Project is expected to take approximately 18 months to two years to design, engineer, construct and commission to full production.

The location of the facility in the Gulf region provides an excellent centralised logistics route, a supply of secure and relatively inexpensive energy, a modern infrastructure, an experienced workforce and strong industrial partners.

The Project has been designed to produce antimony metal (Regulus) (European Standard Grade 1 & 2) for export and a finished ‘high tint’ ATO, branded as Tri-Star ATO, with low lead (Pb) for the European flame retardant markets, as well as for the wider global chemical markets.

Simulus client Altech Chemicals moves forward

Altech Chemicals

Simulus client Altech Chemicals is advancing its High Purity Alumina project and has moved into the project funding phase. As part of these efforts Simulus hosted a party of 24 team technical and commercial reviewers at our laboratory to demonstrate the process steps and equipment used to produce a product with a target specification of 99.99% purity.

Altech’s ASX market release can be found here.


Process engineering; was 2015 a good year?

Process engineering - extraction

This year has seen some of the lowest metal prices in a decade and job cuts across the sector, but could 2015 still be regarded as a good year for process engineering? Let’s look at some of the positives.

  • The old way may not cut it any more, so new and more efficient processes start getting looked at instead of being cast aside as ‘too risky’ just because they are new
  • Technology and cost improvements in the energy storage sector is reinvigorating growth for segments of the minerals industry such as lithium and vanadium
  • Companies focussed on cash flow should be keen to improve recoveries
  • Companies focussed on lower operating costs should provide engineers the chance to make things better

Can anyone share have a positive news story about lowering operating costs or lifting recovery in an operating mine this year?

For new process engineering good news, a quick look through The Simulus Group’s work this year provides some further success stories for new process technology:

  • Altech Chemicals are steaming ahead with the production of high purity alumina (HPA) from kaolin feedstock. HPA is the feedstock for sapphire crystals for unbreakable smart phone screens and is also used in lithium ion batteries.
  • KellTech are waiting for the completion of a pilot run to complete development of Kell process; a way to replace energy hungry and capital intensive smelting in the platinum industry
  • Audalia Resources are close to completing their PFS for titanium and vanadium processing via an integrated hydromet flowsheet at their Medcalf project

The vanadium/ titanium space there’s great work being done on a range of processes, each with its own strengths and weaknesses and some more suited to one project than another. Overall there is a real chance of a couple of these projects getting off the ground and providing vanadium into the battery market and titanium into the pigment market. As mining costs are relatively low and geology simple, process engineering will be the key to their success…. and attracting $700M to $1.5B in capital!

For existing operations, the iron ore producers are leading the way in cost reduction, but to get a true measure of the improvements people should look at local dollar costs to take out the currency impact and also consider the drop in the oil price.

Most savings in gold company operating costs are also currency and oil price related according to some analysts; see

So it seems the new projects are looking to adopt new process technologies but stories of process engineering improvements for operating plants aren’t as widely available as one might expect in the current environment.

Can anyone share have a positive news story about lowering operating costs or lifting recovery in an operating mine this year?

De-risk your new flowsheet – pilot plant operation

Simulus Laboratories’ integrated pilot plant assists clients develop new hydromet flowsheets. Two month long campaigns are running back to back to close out 2015.

This year’s testwork programs have included platinum group metals, high purity alumina, potash, nickel, cobalt, copper, gold, titanium, vanadium and lithium.

Are you developing an innovative new process? Please call Brett Muller on +61 8 6311 4700 to discuss how we can help commercialise your project.

Simulus Laboratories is hiring

Simulus Laboratories are currently recruiting

  • senior metallurgists
  • chemists
  • metallurgists
  • senior operators
  • operators

for an up coming month long pilot plant campaign. Team players with hydrometallurgy or rotary kiln experience (either pilot plant  or full scale) should contact us via Please include an up to date resume. All applicants should be based in Perth (or be willing to be in Perth) and have the Australia work visas.

Positions are available now to assist with commissioning, with the full team starting in 7-10 days. Commissioning work is day shift only, whilst continuous operations will be run on a 4 days, 4 nights, 4 off roster through 28 days.



Simulus Engineers help Audalia Resources define Medcalf Vanadium-Titanium project

Simulus Engineers have been engaged by Audalia Resources to help define the size and scope of the project from both technical and cost perspectives. The Medcalf project has the potential to be a significant vanadium and titanium producer for many years. We look forward to working with Audalia through the up coming testwork and engineering phases of this exciting project.